DENVER — The Anti-Defamation League released a statement condemning ads that have been placed on a few RTD buses in metro Denver.
The ads read: “19,757 Deadly Islamic Attacks Since 9/11/01. It’s Not Islamophobia, It’s Islamorealism. This Ad Paid For By The American Freedom Defense Initiative.”
RTD says it appears on 10 buses and will be there through late November.
“The Anti-Defamation League condemns these ads as highly offensive and inflammatory,” says ADL Mountain States Regional Director Scott L. Levin. “These advertisements stereotype an entire religion based on the actions of extremists. There are extremists in every religion whose views reflect hatred and bigotry — and their acts of violence deserve to be condemned — but to condemn the entire faith based on the views of a small minority is unwarranted, hateful and hurtful to our Muslim neighbors.”
But Levin says at the same time, the ADL supports the free speech guarantees in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
RTD prepared a statement to respond to complaints about the ads.
“Just like newspapers and TV stations, RTD does not endorse or support the products, services, issues or candidates that choose to buy ad space. The American Freedom Defense Initiative contacted our advertising contractor about purchasing space for this ad on 10 buses for four weeks. RTD’s Legal, Purchasing and Marketing units each reviewed the ads and could find no legally supportable reason to reject them. It is important to know that the American Freedom Defense Initiative, not RTD, is responsible for the content of the ads.”
RTD also says these types of ads have popped up at other transit agencies across the country over the past several years. A few agencies initially refused to run them, but they ultimately lost in court. The cost of court battles, and negative publicity was quite above what the ads generated themselves, according to RTD.